In 1946, common lands mainly belonged to municipalities and other agrarian associations (Medici 1948a, 262) that own land collectively (comunaglie, università agrarie…). Regarding their extension, we have two kinds of data. The most extensive survey (extended over 90 provinces) is presented in table 1.
Table 2 instead uses a more restricted definition of commons (Medici 1948a, 264) and provides more aggregated data. These data, refers to the extension of common lands only and does not coincide with the data about the allocation of property rights per category of local entities; this is due to the fact that in the data common property and property of public entities cannot be distinguished (Medici 1948a, 264).The evidence about the evolution of the privatization process from the eighteenth century, however, are few and dispersed. Moreover, these earlier figures are not very reliable because they generally do not stand the comparison with contemporary ones.
For example, the data offered by Corona (2003, 160) systematically underestimate the extension of the commons. While in some areas of Lombardy (Brescia, Bergamo, Como, and Sondrio) there were 75,000 hectares of collective land in the beginning of the twentieth century, commons there occupied 403,617 hectares in 1946 (Medici 1948, 232-3). Something similar is observed for Marche and Umbria where commons supposed to have a much lesser extension in the beginning than around mid twentieth century (22,359 against 161,946 hectares). Likewise, in Southern Italy and Sicily where we find 657,554 and 101,906 hectares respectively in 1946 (Medici 1948, 245), while Corona just refers to 568,000 and 60,000 hectares at the end of the eighteenth century. More recent data also underestimate the extent of the commons. In 1927, 711,259 hectares still remained as commons in Italy as a whole (Corona 2003, 170) while in 1948 we observe 4,374,123 hectares. Corona also quantifies a lesser extension in the Mezzogiorno (272,570 hectares of waste land and 11,802 hectares of arable land) and in the Alps region (803,823 hectares of waste land and 5,761 of arable land) in 1945.
On the other hand, it seems clear that the appropriation of the commons was already quite advanced in some areas (Bagioli 2007) The privatization of the commons can be traced to the Middle Ages. Demographic pressure, especially in areas close to the cities, forced the ploughing of common pasture and woodland (Bagioli 2007). For example, in the Duchy of Savoy, which controlled Piedmont, common lands just constituted a 17 percent of the territory on the beginning of the eighteenth century (Medici 1948a, 71) but this figure contrasts again with the one for 1946. Other sources point that between 1680 and 1717 18.6 percent of the commons were privatized in Piedmont (Bevilacqua 1992, 545).